Jun 23, 2016

Louisiana is Tearing Down Barriers to Health Care Innovation

Post by Freedom Partners

With health care costs skyrocketing, we’ve seen firsthand that the Affordable Care Act just isn’t working for millions of Americans. So how do we actually make health care more affordable and convenient for people? Ask Louisiana.

A Louisiana bill recently signed into law will reduce the state’s regulations on telemedicine, an innovative technology that lets physicians remotely diagnose and treat patients. This is an important step toward lowering health care costs for the state’s 4.6 million residents.

For years, strict regulations on this pioneering industry have created barriers to opportunity for physicians looking to practice medicine and blocked expanded access to low-cost care for the least-fortunate and those that live in rural areas.

Louisiana’s new law is a step in the right direction.

Now, doctors who are licensed in the state can offer their services to patients without having a physical in-state office. This means that more doctors can treat patients, offering them better value care and spending more time with them. Feel a cold coming on? With access to telemedicine you can now see a doctor anytime, all from the privacy of your home.

This is most valuable for struggling families that simply can’t take a day off work to sit for hours in a waiting room or must drive a long way when they are under the weather. With the click of a button, they can talk to their doctor and get the treatment they need.

And the new law even benefits those who are struggling the most and don’t have the means to afford the necessary technology. It broadens the telemedicine definition of “synchronous interaction” to include “audio,” meaning that there’s no longer any need to purchase additional equipment since phones now qualify as acceptable devices.

Increasing access to telemedicine is a step in the right direction, and more states should work toward easing back strict regulations. Indeed, Alaska this week passed into law similar legislation that will ease regulations on physicians and expand access to telemedicine.

Sky-high health care costs are one of the largest barriers to better health for millions of Americans. While the majority of states still have strict regulations on telemedicine, Louisiana’s step forward shows what’s possible when local leaders open the door to technology and innovation.